An HR Manager’s Guide To Rehiring Terminated Or Furloughed Workers


As businesses start to open back up, many are rehiring previous workers who were furloughed or terminated. Our Founder and CEO, David Secunda, talked with Sarah Vonnahme to talk about rehiring terminated workers. Sarah Vonnahme PHR, SHRM-CP, is a Principal Consultant at Cura HR.

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Would you rather read instead of watching a video? Keep scrolling for some highlights from our CEO and Founder’s conversation with Sarah Vonnahme.

Rehiring Workers: What Is The Process Like?

If you need to rehire employees, you might wonder what the process is like. Here is some information on what it’s like to rehire furloughed or terminated workers.

Rehiring Furloughed Workers

Rehiring furloughed workers is easier than you think. Sarah Vonnahme states that companies should treat this like these workers are coming back from a leave of absence. They may want to update a few things like their W4 or direct deposit information, but they shouldn’t need to fill out a new Form I-9 if their work status in the United States hasn’t changed. Talk with your furloughed worker to make sure that they still have the same work status and figure out what forms they’d like to update.

If your furloughed work was receiving benefits during their furlough, you shouldn’t need to update that. If they weren’t, you need to go through the steps to restart the benefits associated with their job title.

Unemployment And Furloughed Workers

Furloughed workers were eligible for traditional unemployment. Your furloughed employees might have also received an extra check thanks to the CARES act and pandemic unemployment. It is up to your rehired employees to connect with unemployment and keep them up to date about their employment status. Make sure that your employees understand that once they return to work, they need to be honest with unemployment.

Rehiring Terminated Workers

Rehiring terminated workers is a little bit different from furloughed workers because they have had a separation in their employment with the company. You may be looking to hire an old employee or a boomerang employee back after a break during this time. Sarah states that these employees should be treated mostly as a new hire.

You’ll want to send a new offer letter, so you have one that’s updated with the new start date.

You’ll also want to consider a new I-9 form if it’s been three years since they filled out the old one or you don’t have access to their old one. If it’s been less than three years, you can fill out section three of form I-9 to state that you are rehiring an employee.

There are some forms like the W4 that don’t have any federal rules around filling them out. Having current information is critical, though, so you’ll probably want to have them fill it out again. Make sure other information like direct deposit, address, and emergency contacts are up to date as well.

What If I Don’t Want To Rehire A Furloughed Employee?

Sometimes we have the best of intentions, but bringing back a furloughed worker doesn’t make financial sense. If you are having trouble with rehiring furloughed employees, you have to make an official decision. Notify your employee verbally of your decision and draft up a separation letter so that employees can understand everything. Having every detail in writing helps both you and your employee understand the terms of the decision.

Can I Bring Employees Back Within A Different Department Or Pay Structure?

You can make this change, as long as you are upfront and set the right expectations. You will want to have a brief discussion with your employee, then get everything down in writing like the effective start date, job title, what duties the new job has, and any pay rate changes.

Sarah Vonnahme encourages employers to go even further by stating:

If their position is actually changing, I think it’s a great idea for their manager (or another leader) to be talking to them a little bit more about what the new role is, what the expectations are. Just to make sure that the employee is actually set up for success in the new position.

What If I Can’t Bring My Full-Time Employee Back To Full-Time Employment?

As you decide which employees to bring back, you may not be able to bring everyone back in their original full-time role. Bringing someone in has a part-time employee or reduced hours employee will effect somethings like benefits eligibility, so it’s essential to look at that.

In our first video with Sarah about supporting workers through the complexities of unemployment, we talked about an alternative unemployment plan that can help in this regard: workshare programs or partial unemployment.

If you need to reduce hours, there are a few things you can do to help your employees navigate those waters and stay afloat during this time.

What Can Be Done To Take Care Of Your People During This Turbulent Time?

Your company is likely going through a lot of changes in preparation for getting back to business. Here are some final thoughts on what can be done to take care of your people during this turbulent time.

  • Be transparent and open to ensure that you get employees the information they need promptly.
  • Understand and relay any changes or updates to how employees will return to the office.
  • Keep an eye on changes to the organizational structure and let people know what to expect when working.
  • Consider how you can provide extra resources and help for employees as they transition to working from home.